Monday, 23 December 2013

Eastern Promises

Eastern Promises bears the trademark of a beautifully gritty, violent and psychological gangster drama set in London. East Promises is a compelling crime story about the Russian Mafia and the underworld movement of human trafficking, murder and the portrayal of a distant foreign culture that brings with it its ruthless heritage. Director David Cronenberg presents London in a whole new dark light where Russian mobsters silt throats with straight razors or wield linoleum knives. This is a gangster movie with no guns, simply knives, that gives Eastern Promises that rogue, shadowy atmospheric take on the genre.  
A Russian teenager living in London dies during childbirth, leaving only her diary behind as the only clue to whom she was. Half Russian Midwife Anna Khitrova (Naomi Watts) sets out to undercover the girls origins. The diary leads Anna to an extravagant Russian Trans-Siberia restaurant with an over welcoming old man Semyon (Armin Mueller-Stahl). However this lavish restaurant and charming old man is all a front for the brutal Russian Mafia Vory Z Zakone brotherhood, with his oldest son Kirill (Vincent Cassel) and driver Nikolai Luzhin (Viggo Mortensen) as lead henchmen of the family.
Eastern Promises is not only a fantastic take on the gangster genre but a fascinating gateway into the Russian mafia and the Vory Z Zakone subculture of their tattoos. The film shows the secret language of the criminal underworld Vory tattoos “The Code of Thieves” and how these tattoos are not only symbols of who they are and what they’ve done, but also an indication of their rank within the criminal world. Stars on the shoulder declare the rank as a Thief and on the kneecaps stand for “I won’t fall to my knees before the authorities”. Daggers are the calling card of a man who kills for money. Cupolas on churches show the number of years the convicts have served in prison. Just like in the army, the military style epaulet on the shoulder represents the individuals’ high ranking profile in the Mafia. To these men the stars on the shoulders are not only a symbol that they will bow down to know man but a birthmark to the life they have chosen to take.
Just like his other films, Cronenberg's trademark of violence creeps its way into Eastern Promises with a graphically violent fight scene in a Turkish bath where two Chechen men are wielding linoleum knives. The choice to focus the primary weapon with knives rather than guns gives a more brutal and terrifying atmosphere. It’s a purely psychological feeling knowing that someone would have to be up close to kill you and the last person you would see is the stabber. In an interview Cronenberg said “We have no guns in this movie. There were no guns in the script. The choice of those curved knives we use in the steam bath was mine. They're not some kind of exotic Turkish knive, they're linoleum knives. I felt that these guys could walk around in the streets with these knives, and if they were ever caught, they could say 'we're linoleum cutters”.
David Cronenberg triumphs once again with gripping us with not only the violence but the culture of the criminal world just like in A History of Violence (2005). Showcasing Viggo Mortensen's once again, his prowess in a daring performance as the hitman driver and clean up guy Nikolai Luzhin goes far beyond as the heavily-tattooed cold hearted killer. Mortensen personal saw to it that the tattoos he wore were accurate for the character he played. He even studied Russian gangsters and their tattoos and even spending time with a Russian Mafia specialist. This unquestionable dedication resulted in Mortensen being nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actor at the 80th Academy Awards, and rightfully so.


  1. 11th Edition


    David Cronenberg exhibitions
    Evolution. Lucca / Fondazione Ragghianti
    M. Butterfly. Lucca / Puccini Museum - Birthplace
    Red Cars. Lucca / State Archives (ex-Macelli area)
    Chromosomes. Viareggio / GAMC Galleria Arte Moderna e Contemporanea

    From Sunday, 15 February to Sunday, 3 May 2015

    Opening Hours: Tuesday to Sunday from 3:30 pm to 7:30 pm - closed on Mondays
    Tickets: € 4.00 with a single ticket to Evolution & Red Cars

    Reduced Tickets – Visitors entitled to discounted tickets: visitors under 18, over 65, groups of 10 or more people, college students, ticket holders to the Puccini Museum, ticket holders to GAMC, holders of a Festival day pass or of a pass for the entire the Festival, visitors arriving by train in Lucca in possession of a Trenitalia travel ticket or a pass purchased during the period of the exhibitions, Trenitalia smart card holders, holders a movie tickets purchased during the period of the exhibitions at the Cinema Centrale, Eden and Goldoni in Viareggio, at the cinema Astra, Moderno and Centrale in Lucca or at the Cinema Lanteri in Pisa, members of Lucca film clubs and cineforum UICC, CINIT, FEDIC, FIC).Free entry – Visitors entitled to free entry: children under 6 years of age, disabled visitors and their accompaniers, journalists exhibiting identification, group guides).

    Lucca Film Festival - via delle Tagliate II°, traversa I°, n 64 55100 Lucca -

    Lucca Film Festival Press Office
    PS Communication Antonio Pirozzi - + 39 339/5238132
    Davis & Franceschini - Lea Codognato / Caterina Briganti - tel. + 39 055/2347273 -
    English: Tessa Wiechmann
    External Relations Fondazione Cassa di Risparmio di Lucca

  2. Tribute to David Cronenberg
    the complete retrospective of the Canadian Director’s films and three international exhibitions

    Jeremy Irons, Terry Gilliam, Alfonso Cuarón and Matteo Garrone at the Lucca Film Festival and Europa Cinema 2015

    From the 15th to 22nd of March 2015 retrospectives, film classes and conversations with international authors
    The experimental Italian filmmaker Roberto Nanni will also be a guest star at the Festival
    Grand finale with the third edition of Lucca Effetto Cinema Notte

    Jeremy Irons, Terry Gilliam, Alfonso Cuarón and Matteo Garrone will be the guests of honor of the 11th Edition of the Lucca Film Festival, which will take place in the Tuscan city and in Viareggio from Sunday 15 March to Sunday 22 March 2015. The festival will pay tribute to each guest with screenings of their works, film masterclasses and gala evenings. This year’s edition of the festival celebrates Canadian director David Cronenberg who will be unable to attend in person due to personal matters but who will be present via Skype at several encounters. The tribute encompasses a complete retrospective of his films, three exhibitions and a concert in which some of his films’ most beautiful soundtracks will be performed. . The festival will close with Lucca Effetto Cinema Notte, a night where city becomes a real outdoor movie set. Events taking place in Viareggio are part of the initiatives organized by Europa Cinema, which this year has joined forces with the Lucca Film Festival.

    International guests in Lucca: Gilliam, Cuarón and Irons
    British director and screenwriter Terry Gilliam, the well-known member of the Monty Python comedy troupe, will inaugurate the 11th Edition of the Lucca Film Festival on Sunday, March 15 at 9 p.m. at the Cinema Moderno in Lucca. During the gala evening, the Festival will pay tribute to Gilliam with a Lifetime Achievement Award and screen his latest work The Zero Theorem, starring Oscar winning actor Christoph Waltz. Film critic Francesco Alò will introduce the evening. On Monday, March 16 at 11 a.m., Terry Gilliam will hold a film masterclass at the Teatro del Giglio with the participation of film critic Francesco Alò, Nicolas Condemi and Federico Salvetti, the Artistic Director of the Lucca Film Festival and Europa Cinema.
    Mexican filmmaker Alfonso Cuarón, director of films such as Gravity and of Y tu mamá también will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award on Thursday, March 19 at 9 p.m. at the Cinema Moderno in Lucca. The award ceremony will be followed by the screening of Children of Men, the science fiction thriller film directed and co-written by Cuarón, starring Clive Owen and Julianne Moore. Film critics Andrea Fornasiero and Claudio Bartolini will introduce the evening. In addition to a retrospective of the Mexican director’s films, on Friday 20 March at 11 a.m., Cuarón will hold a film masterclass at the Teatro del Giglio with the participation of Nicola Borrelli, Alessandro Romanini, Andrea Fornasiero and Claudio Bartolini.
    The Gala evening dedicated to English actor Jeremy Irons will be held on Friday, March 20 at 9 p.m. at the Cinema Moderno in Lucca. After presenting Oscar winning actor with a Lifetime Achievement Award the evening will continue with the screening of M. Butterfly, one of the two films directed by David Cronenberg in which Jeremy Irons stars. On Saturday 21 March at 11 a.m., Irons will hold a film masterclass at the Teatro del Giglio, with the participation of film critic Claudio Carabba, Nicola Borrelli, Alessandro Romanini and Manrico Ferrucci, Director of the Teatro del Giglio of Lucca. That same day at 3 p.m. actress Sinéad Cusack will introduce the film Eastern Promises.